Everyone knows that walking scores of miles day after day will take a toll on your body. Unlike a day’s outing, or even a section hike, a through hike requires special appreciation for the long-term. Hiking for a few days, you can afford to use up some of your body’s reserves.
The same can be done on a through-hike, but there will come a point when the reserves run out. Hikers whisper about what happens then–the infamous ‘ammonia sweats,’ caused by your body metabolizing muscle, I believe.
The last blog post was about quantity of food, but quality is important too.
On other hikers’ advice, I’ve taken to popping a kids chewable multivitamin each day, and it’s seemed to help, particularly with muscle cramps.
But what’s struck me most about endurance is the interconnectedness of it all. Reducing carried weight helps endurance, right? The less to haul the easier on the body. True to a point, but what if you don’t carry enough suncream, and you get burned, then your body has to divert resources to healing.
What if you don’t have enough warm clothing, and you’re often cold, using calories to heat up? What if you don’t carry enough creature comforts, and the hike wears you down, leaving you forlorn and perhaps ready to quit?
There are many trade-offs, particular to each person.
Generally, however, thru-hikers shed weight along the way. A look inside any hiker box–those receptacles at hostels and other places on the way where hikers leave excess stuff to be rummaged by others–will confirm this.
I saw a complete works of Shakespeare in one box, a fireman’s helmet in another, and a badminton set in another. I’m not sure the logic that lead to their original inclusion, but I’d love to know. I recently ditched my cook set.
I thought long and hard about how much hot meals and drinks support my morale, but decided the cost was worth not lugging around heavy butane canisters.
Of course, a few days after, the rain returned and I found myself wistfully looking at other hikers making coffee in the morning. Maybe the sun will come out if I reverse my decision.
While I debate the finer points of hot morning drinks, many in Zimbabwe go short of food and shelter, through no choice of their own of course, but through the difficulty of survival in a country which has once again run out of money and is perilously low on food.
If you are able, please donate to ZANE Australia, ZANE UK or ZANE US and help make a difference to the suffering of our fellow Zimbabweans in need.
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